Nature Journal: Some vireos may be monotonous singers, but they are a sign of spring – Citizen Times

George Ellison
 |  Nature Journal

I simply heard a blue-headed vireo. Spring is right here.

The vireos are a gaggle of small to medium-sized perching birds which can be sometimes dull-plumaged and greenish in coloration. Besides for his or her heavier payments, the smaller species resemble wooden warblers.

There are 9 vireo species in japanese North America. Of these, 4 are breeding residents of WNC.

The white-eyed vireo inhabits dense thickets alongside creeks at decrease elevations. .It has yellow eye rings or “spectacles” and fiendish white eyes.  The white-eyed’s track is a clearly phrased “chick-a-per-weeoo-chick.” Hear for the sharply enunciated “chick” originally or finish of the track.

With its yellow spectacles, darkish eyes, and wealthy yellow breast, the yellow-throated vireo is a lovely chicken, however it’s troublesome to view carefully even with binoculars because it favors the tops of bushes which can be shrouded in dense foliage. Hear for a track with a lovely “burry” or “hoarse” high quality.

One of the vital widespread birds within the broadleaf forests of japanese North America is the red-eyed vireo.  Simply recognized by its olive-green coloration, whitish underparts, slim white eyebrow, and pink eye, this specific vireo (the title vireo means “greenish”) invades the hardwoods of our a part of the continent by the hundreds of thousands every yr. However you do not have to see the red-eyed to recognized it is round. This chicken is likely one of the most persistent and monotonous singers of all. From sunup till sunset, it sings its robin-like phrases separated by brief pauses, though the track (in the event you can name it that) isn’t precisely the identical from one rendition to the subsequent.

A Canadian ornithologist with nothing higher to do spent a whole day counting the prattling, colorless songs uttered by a single red-eyed. That was in Ontario the place a summer season day lasts 20 hours. Complete songs for the day: 22,197.  Common songs per hour: 1,110.  Common songs per minute: 18.5. Nation individuals throughout the red-eye’s vary refered to it because the “preacher chicken.”

The blue-headed vireo is by far essentially the most lovely and pleasing of the vireo species that breed right here in WNC.  (Till not too long ago the official widespread title for this chicken was solitary vireo.)  The blue-headed vireo breeds to a really restricted extent within the piedmont space of North Carolina and typically in the decrease elevations of the mountains; however, for essentially the most half, it’s a chicken of the center elevations from about 2,500 ft to 4,500 ft and greater.  Because of this it’s typically referred to as the “mountain vireo.”

The blue-headed has an olive again, blue-gray head, white wing bars, white spectacles, and a glowing white throat. Within the open hardwood conditions it favors, the chicken strikes gracefully and intentionally from limb to limb, turning its head back and forth to look at for bugs or to keep watch over intruders such as you and me.

What the red-eyed lacks as a singer, the solitary greater than makes up for.  The exact same robin-like notes the red-eyed chants so drearily, the solitary remodel into actual music. The nineteenth century New England naturalist Bradford Torrey visited Highlands, NC, within the Nineties to discover the chicken lifetime of WNC and could not chorus from devoting a few pages to what he referred to as the “mountain vireo” in his 1898 e book “A World of Inexperienced Hills: Observations of Nature and Human Nature within the Blue Ridge.”

“The mountain vireo,” wrote Torrey, “was candy and the whole lot that was lovely. …  There is no such thing as a bird-song inside my acquaintance that excels the solitary’s in a sure intimate expressiveness, home-felt happiness, and purity. … What a distinction between it and the red-eyed’s comparatively meaning-less and feeling-less music!”

George Ellison is an award-winning naturalist and author. His spouse, Elizabeth Ellison, is a watercolor artist and paper-maker who has a gallery-studio in Bryson Metropolis. Contact them at or or write to P.O. Field 1262, Bryson Metropolis, NC 28713. 

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